What is it called when a Latina federal judge issues a ruling and a white, male New York Times reporter responds by lining up a bunch of other white men to attack her legal opinion as ignorant, unsophisticated, and even “radical”?
I have a slight hunch as to what the Times would call it if not for the ruling having been in favor of former President Donald Trump.
The paper on Monday published an article citing a slew of “experts” who not only disagreed with Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to grant Trump’s request for a special master to review the documents seized from his home by the FBI, but who also belittled her ruling as uninformed and unserious.
Reporter Charlie Savage began his piece asserting that “legal specialists” were taken aback by Cannon’s order, viewing it as an “extraordinary” move to “interject” in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Trump for possessing documents that allegedly belong to the government. By “interject,” Savage presumably means “issue a ruling in a legal dispute,” the thing judges are paid to do each day.
The point of a special master isn’t to thwart the investigation. It’s to ensure that the constitutional rights and reputation of a private citizen haven’t been and won’t be infringed upon, in the event that federal agents seized more than what they were legally entitled to. The investigation, which apparently centers on confidential government information and how Trump handled it since leaving the White House, will proceed sooner or later, one way or another. There is absolutely no way Democrats are letting that one go.
Savage also said his gang of legal minds believed that Cannon, who is of Cuban descent, “showed unusual solicitude” toward Trump, who nominated her to the court in 2020. In other words, she seemed motivated by personal interest rather than legal soundness. Perhaps they wish Canon would have been less emotional.
The ruling wasn’t the biggest surprise, given that Cannon had indicated several days ago that she was inclined to permit the use of a special master, which isn’t some novelty invented by Trump’s counsel, but a regular tool that attempts to ensure impartiality of certain legal procedures. But because Cannon had signaled her preference in advance, rather than pretend this would be a hotly contested issue, Savage complained that the judge wasn’t “far more modest.” Yeah, and maybe someone could tell her to cover up a little, too.
Assisting Savage was a mix of seven lawyers and legal scholars, all but one of whom were white men, to doubt Cannon’s acumen and sincerity. (I wouldn’t mention their skin color, but leftists always do it so why not?)
University of Texas law professor Stephen I. Vladeck: “An unprecedented intervention by a federal district judge…”
Paul Rosenzweig, former Homeland Security official: “untenable…”
New York University law professor Ryan Goodman: “Judge Cannon had a reasonable path she could have taken. … Instead, she chose a radical path.” (Goodman might even consider telling Cannon that she should calm down.)
NYU legal scholar Peter Shane: “[Her] opinion seems oblivious to the nature of executive privilege.” (What a bimbo, that Cannon!)
Duke University law professor Samuel Buell: “This ruling is laughably bad, and the written justification is even flimsier.”
The very plainly written ruling thoroughly explains the logic and mitigating factors that led to Cannon’s decision: This is uncharted legal territory involving the criminal investigation of a former president; the record reflects that Trump had been in open communication with the government about the records in question; that he and his associates had previously voluntarily turned over requested materials; and that the government admitted to having seized private and personal belongings, such as medical records and communications protected by attorney-client privilege, which the search warrant may not have permitted.
The ways that the raid and its accompanying criminal investigation could wrongfully harm Trump, or anyone else who might end up in similar circumstances, are infinite, especially if there were a steady stream of leaks from the Justice Department that characterize what they seized in ways meant to damage the former president’s reputation. Cannon acknowledged that reality in her ruling, which was then characterized by Savage as “a footnote” that “insinuated” potential leaks.
But Cannon didn’t insinuate anything. She cited the government’s legal team as having conceded in court “the unfortunate existence of leaks to the press.” Imagine: Someone in the government anonymously providing a reporter with confidential information that might make Trump look bad. No! Never! It’s offensive that anyone would even suggest the possibility!
But sure. Belittle the completely innocuous legal ruling of a Latina graduate of Duke University.
It’s not as if Trump won the Mega Millions. His grand prize is a legal agent who gets to look at the thousands of documents snatched from his home and determine how many, if any, have no business being in government hands. Once that’s over, Savage can rest assured that Biden’s federal agents will continue doing what they do best: harassing his political opposition.